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At the 2014 ESPY Awards on Thursday night, we all realized something as the Arthur Ashe Courage Award was announced. As the rousing standing ovation died down, everybody quickly understood that Michael Sam was fully deserving of the award.
On that night, much like Stuart Scott did, Sam provided us with a heartfelt speech that was greatly appreciated by many in this world, myself included.
On the other hand, it should be argued that Sam has not showed us what his true courage is made of yet.
The speech that Sam delivered sounded more like a retirement speech than anything else. He was given an award before he has even stepped onto an NFL football field or any football field after he announced to the world that he is gay. His life as the first “openly-gay NFL player” is only getting started.
Does Sam deserve an immense amount of credit for what he did back in February? He absolutely does, as courage like that is very tough to find in an individual. The true test however will start instantly as rookies report to the St. Louis Rams training camp this Monday, according to CBS Sports.
It can be argued that this is just another example of how our country is too quick to jump the gun as we make every effort to jump on the "politically correct" bandwagon. Arthur Ashe, for which the award Sam received was named after, battled segregation over a long and storied career in tennis. He was a black man playing in the “whitest” of sports.
Ashe was subjected to some of the nastiest racial acts any human could ever endure, and yet he walked a straight and narrow path without blinking an eye. It was his illustrious life and how he dealt with it which we as people recognize the brilliance. Ashe passed away in 1993 from AIDS after he contracted HIV through a blood transfusion during the early 1980s.
After it became public knowledge that Ashe contracted HIV through such a freak accident, author Ralph Wiley asked, “Is this the hardest thing you've ever had to deal with?,” to which Ashe replied, “No, the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with is being a black man in this society," according to ESPN.
In Sam’s first ever press-conference at the NFL Combine, he told the country that the only thing he wants to “be known for is playing football.” According to his words, nothing else except football mattered to him.
Why such the contradiction then with recent actions?
Since that presser, Sam has flirted with the idea of doing a reality show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, was seen on TV kissing his boyfriend after being drafted and has been an ambassador for the gay community. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with partaking in any of these things, but major concerns then come up about the sincerity about Sam’s words. Contradiction lies between what Sam said about “only football” and the rest of what he’s been up to.
If Sam wants to be an ambassador for the gay community, then I would support that decision 100 percent. The point is that it has only been about six months since Sam “came out” to the world. Words do take courage, however the true test lies ahead as he’s about to walk into the lion's den; and how he reacts to the many intense-filled situations he is about to face will determine who Michael Sam is as a person.
Along with all of the other great humans in this world that recognize what he's doing is a wonderful step-forward, I wish him the best of luck.
Image courtesy of INFphoto.com